Plokštinė was an underground missile base of the Soviet Union. This is the first nuclear missile base of the Soviet Union, an underground R-12 Dvinaballistic medium-range missile base. In 2012, the Cold War Museum was opened at the site.
At the time when the United States started building underground military bases, it was decided that the Soviet Union had to maintain its military advantage. Therefore, in September 1960, the Soviets started rapid construction of an underground military base, one of the first in the Soviet Union, near the village of Plokščiai. The chosen location was 160 metres above sea level and it could cover all of Europe, including Turkey and southern European countries. In 1960, more than 10,000 Soviet soldiers started secret works in the Žemaitija National Park that took two years. The costs of construction were comparable to the costs of building a city district or a small town.
The base was one of the top Soviet military secrets that was revealed by U.S. reconnaissance only in 1978. The base boasted of a network of tunnels and included four deep shafts that have a depth between 27 to 34 meters. They were covered by the concrete domes that could be moved aside on rails in 30 minutes. The base could stay autonomous for 15 days, or for 3 hours if also hermetically sealed. The surrounding electric fence was normally connected to 220 V, with a possibility to raise the voltage to 1700 in case of alert. The active team consisted of about 300 people, most of them military guards.
The base included four silos that housed R-12 Dvina missiles with nuclear warheads. These missiles were propelled using a medium-range liquid. They weighed more than 40 tones, including 1,500-kilogram warhead. These surface-to-surface missiles had a radius of a little less than 2,500 kilometres. No missiles, even for tests, were launched from the base.
After twelve years of operations, the site was shut down. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the site has been abandoned and not maintained. It has been visited by urban explorers, also suffered from numerous metal thefts. After the reconstruction in 2012, the former base site now hosts the Cold War Museum, opening one of the four existing silos for visitors.References:
The two-tiered Roman amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times. Built in 90 AD, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators, and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting as well as plays and concerts in summer.
The building measures 136 m in length and 109 m wide, and features 120 arches. It has an oval arena surrounded by terraces, arcades on two levels (60 in all), bleachers, a system of galleries, drainage system in many corridors of access and staircases for a quick exit from the crowd. It was obviously inspired by the Colosseum in Rome (in 72-80), being built slightly later (in 90).
With the fall of the Empire in the 5th century, the amphitheatre became a shelter for the population and was transformed into a fortress with four towers (the southern tower is not restored). The structure encircled more than 200 houses, becoming a real town, with its public square built in the centre of the arena and two chapels, one in the centre of the building, and another one at the base of the west tower.
This new residential role continued until the late 18th century, and in 1825 through the initiative of the writer Prosper Mérimée, the change to national historical monument began. In 1826, expropriation began of the houses built within the building, which ended by 1830 when the first event was organized in the arena - a race of the bulls to celebrate the taking of Algiers.
Arles Amphitheatre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with other Roman buildings of the city, as part of the Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments group.